New Car Review

2018 Lincoln Navigator: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2018

The 2018 Lincoln Navigator represents a truly impressive redesign effort, especially for a vehicle that has always been a bit phoned in. From the very beginning, there just wasn't enough separating it from Ford's Expedition. Well, this latest Navigator may still share a great deal with its more humble sibling, but there's now far more style and substance present to not only make it an obvious upgrade, but one of the most appealing full-size luxury SUVs on the market.

Let's start with the cabin that's a clear step up in terms of quality and design -- and not just from the Expedition, but from the rest of the Lincoln lineup as well. Though it is at its most distinctive, and frankly fantastic, when done up in one of three Black Label trims, the Navigator's interior is well-made, interesting to look at and packed with luxury features. Its 12-inch Sync3 touchscreen is also easy to use. Importantly, however, the cabin offers considerably more space than other full-size SUVs (especially the Cadillac Escalade), with a third-row seat that can comfortably fit even large adults. In fact, opting for the extended Navigator L only adds extra cargo space behind the equally-sized third row.

The 2018 Navigator also benefits from superior mechanicals as well, including an adaptive suspension on most trim levels and a turbocharged V6 (shared with the Ford Raptor) that pumps out 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. Nothing else in the segment comes close to that. Really, the new Navigator deserves every bit of attention it's been receiving. Not only is it now one of the most distinctive luxury SUVs, it's also the most functional, practical and capable.

What's New for 2018?

The Lincoln Navigator was completely redesigned for 2018.

What We Like

Adult-friendly third-row seat in both body lengths; smooth and very powerful engine; ample standard feature content; high-style cabin; class-best towing

What We Don't

Ride could be more comfortable; unique color schemes exclusive to most expensive Black Label trim

How Much?

$72,100-$96,900

Fuel Economy

Every Navigator is powered by a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 that produces a prodigious 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard, while 4-wheel drive is available. The Navigator can tow as much as 8,700 pounds.

Fuel economy is 16 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg in combined driving with the regular length body style and rear-wheel drive. The extended-length Navigator L is 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined. Four-wheel drive lowers those estimates to 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The Lincoln Navigator is available in regular and extended-length (L) body styles. There are Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label trim levels.

The base Premiere ($72,100) is the only trim that's regular length only. It comes standard with 20-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED foglights, hands-free power lift gate, parking sensors, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic warning system and automatic wipers. Inside, you get proximity entry and push-button start, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated 8-way power front seats, driver memory functions, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, a power-folding third-row bench and heated second-row captain's chairs (power folding and sliding). Tech features include a 12-in LCD instrument panel, a 10-in Sync3 touchscreen interface, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, integrated navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, six USB ports, four 12-volt outlets, one 110-volt house-style outlet and a 14-speaker Revel audio system with HD and satellite radios, an auxiliary audio jack and a media player interface.

The Select ($76,100/L $79,300) adds an adaptive suspension, 22-inch wheels, a windshield wiper de-icer, a heated steering wheel and a wireless charging pad. It is also eligible for options not available on the Premiere.

The Reserve ($81,200/L $84,400) adds standard 4-wheel drive, an illuminated Lincoln grille emblem and ventilated 24-way "Multi-Contour" front seats.

Both the Select and Reserve can be equipped with the Technology package, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, an automated parking system, lane-departure warning and keeping and a head-up display. Also available are a CD player and a 20-speaker Revel Ultima sound system.

The Black Label ($93,700/L $96,900) includes all of the above options, plus upgraded exterior trim, special paint choices and a choice of three unique interior styling "Themes."

All but the base trim can be equipped with optional 30-way "Perfect Position" front seats and a dual-screen rear entertainment system. A panoramic sunroof is included on the Navigator L Reserve. It's optional on the regular length model.

Safety

Every Navigator comes standard with wind-correcting stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, blind spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic warning system. The Technology package adds forward-collision warning with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warning and keeping.

The 2018 Navigator hadn't been crash tested by a third party at the time of this writing.

Behind the Wheel

Admittedly, we were a little disappointed by the Navigator's ride, despite most trims riding on adaptive suspension dampers. We were expecting a buttery-smooth Lincoln, but there was just a bit too much impact harshness felt over big bumps. Unfortunately, that's probably unavoidable given the truck architecture and the 22-in wheels found on most trim levels.

That, however, is one of the few foibles we experienced with the 2018 Navigator. Sure, it's a big and heavy truck with handling to match, but its steering makes maneuvering easy and tackling winding roads reassuring. Those adaptive suspension dampers at least do a good job keeping body motions in check. For a big and heavy truck, the Navigator is excellent. It's also incredibly quick thanks to its smooth and powerful turbocharged V6.

The interior is where the real show happens, especially in the divine Black Label trim level's cool "Yacht Club" blue or "Destination" dark red. Lesser trims still impress, however, with their design that's best described as 21st century meets Mid-Century Modern. It evokes Lincoln's greatest era while not going the retro route. As for the 21st century credentials, the 12-in touchscreen is mounted high, is easy to reach and takes advantage of Lincoln/Ford's Sync3 infotainment tech. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included.

As for space, you literally cannot beat the Navigator for third-row space unless you get a van. Large adults can comfortably fit back there for hours, whereas small children have every right to complain in the back of an Escalade. Second-row space is excellent, as it should be, and can be outfitted with a full center console for added comfort and storage. Cargo space is palatial and the load-in height, though taller than a crossover, is nevertheless much shorter than the Escalade's. In total, the Navigator offers superior practicality.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Ford Expedition -- The Expedition is also all-new and offers the same interior space and a bit more towing capacity, but it has less power and a less luxurious interior.

2018 Infiniti QX80 -- The Navigator is still the overall superior package, but the QX80 is also considerably cheaper.

Read 2018 Lincoln Navigator vs. 2018 Infiniti QX80: Which Is Better?

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class -- The GLS may not have the Navigator's ultimate space and towing capability, but it's far better than you'd expect given it's a crossover. Its high-lux cabin is the only competitor that can top the Lincoln.

Used Range Rover -- The old Navigator would've made this comparison ridiculous, but that's not the case with the new one. The high-style Range Rover, albeit a cheaper used one, is indeed a worthy alternative to the Navigator (or vice versa).

Autotrader's Advice

If you have the money, the Black Label's uniquely stylish interior themes make it the most desirable trim by far. Otherwise, opting for the Select trim is your best bet given its adaptive suspension, bigger wheels and access to accident avoidance tech. It's hard to see how the Reserve's glowing Lincoln star and multi-contour seats equal an extra $2,500.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Lincoln Navigator: New Car Review - Autotrader